For the first time ever, a Division and officer are the co-recipients of the Bill Hancox Memorial Award, presented annually at the Toronto Crime Stoppers Chief of Police fundraising dinner.
At the 20th annual event on May 11, Constable Chris Garcia and 42 Division, where he has been assigned since joining the Service nearly seven years ago, won the award presented to a Toronto Police Service unit that makes full use of the Crime Stoppers program to help solve crimes and enhance the community’s safety and security.
An exception was made for the first time, as Garcia made full use of a tip last year to effect an arrest and, in the process, enhance the safety of the victim.
With just a name and phone number in a domestic assault allegation, he was able to locate the address and conduct interviews that led to a suspect arrest.
“Even though I was just doing my job, I am greatly humbled and appreciative of this honour,” Garcia said.
A registered nurse in his native Philippines before migrating 13 years ago, he feels privileged to be receiving an award in Hancox's name. On August 4, 1998, Hancox died in the line of duty after he was stabbed while working undercover.
Detective Sergeant Gerry Heaney, the 42 Division crime manager, has effectively used the Crime Stoppers program for two separate crime re-enactments, including a public service announcement for robberies on Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) routes and residential nighttime break-and-enters.
“42 Division is a station that clearly gets the Crime Stoppers program advantages,” said co-ordinator Christopher Scherk.
Superintendent Kim Yeandle, unit commander at the Division, proudly accepted the award.
“This is a huge honour for us,” she said. “Working with the Crime Stoppers team has really benefited our Division.”
Danial Khamer, a Grade 12 student at Father Henry Carr Catholic Secondary Student, was presented with the Student Award. He was involved in a new training program designed to increase oral communications skills.
The interactive workshop paired Grade 12 students with elementary pupils to talk about several issues, including bullying.
“I am happy to be playing a leading role at my school and proud to be recognized with this award,” said Khamer, who aspires to become a Toronto Police officer.
His school was the recipient of the John Munghan School of the Year Award for demonstrating outstanding leadership against bullying, intolerance and promotion of school safety, and a strong commitment to humanitarian causes through myriad student and staff activities.
Since its inception in 1984, the Toronto Crime Stoppers program has received more than 126,000 tips, resulting in over 11,000 arrests. More than 37,000 charges have been laid and almost $63 million in stolen property and $332 million worth of illegal drugs have been seized.
“This program will not go away,” said Chief Mark Saunders. “It’s too important. This is a program that really defines what the city of Toronto is and what we do…From a policing perspective, the new version of policing is the ability to listen. We listen to what you need to say, so that we can do our part in really and truly defining what the value is when it comes to policing. Tonight is such a classic example of that.”
Through the program, the public plays an integral role in keeping our neighbourhoods safe by providing our police service with an enormous volume of beneficial tips, saving both time and money
Shortly after being sworn is as Toronto’s 10th police chief, a year ago, Saunders met with Toronto Crime Stoppers representatives.
“You were one of the first groups that sat down with me and said, ‘What do we do to make this better’?”, he recalled. “So, you are thinking. It’s never stagnant and that’s such a cool thing because that is the key to success. You are not sitting on your laurels and saying this thing works, so forget about it. When I met with you, I knew we were in the right place.”
Toronto Police Services Board Chair Andy Pringle said the program is a hugely successful partnership between the police and the community.
“Through the program, the public plays an integral role in keeping our neighbourhoods safe by providing our police service with an enormous volume of beneficial tips, saving both time and money,” he noted. “Many investigations are hastened and a great deal of expense saved as a result of tips received through Crime Stoppers.”
Last year, the program fielded 8,187 tips, resulting in 104 arrests and 434 charges.
“Dynamic and constantly evolving, the program has adapted to the reality of a rapidly changing society, utilizing and embracing new technology to convey messages in the most effective way possible and reaching a larger audience than ever before,” Pringle said.
Crime Stoppers is the brainchild of Greg MacAleese, who was an officer with the Albuquerque Police Department in New Mexico. After running out of leads in a homicide investigation, the frustrated cop turned to the public for assistance in 1976.
He produced the first crime re-enactment that was aired on local television and made available to other media outlets and promised that anyone providing information leading to an arrest would be eligible for a cash reward.
Within hours of the broadcast, police received a tip that led to the arrest of two suspects who were charged with murder. They were sentenced to life terms with no chance of parole.
Toronto has one of the largest programs in the world. There are close to 1,300 Crime Stoppers programs in nearly 20 countries.
Anyone with information about a crime that has occurred, or is about to occur, can contact Crime Stoppers anonymously at 416-222-TIPS (8477), online at 222tips.com, text TOR and your message to CRIMES (274637) or Leave A Tip on Facebook.